LITHIA — A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot at the home of a Tampa police officer on Friday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident involved four teens, ages 15 to 16. A teen called 911 to report the shooting just after 4 p.m. in a home on Bridgewalk Drive in the Fishhawk Ranch development.
When deputies arrived within five minutes, they said they found a 15-year-old with a gunshot wound to the upper body.
The teen was rushed to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
“With guns you always want to assume they’re loaded,” Hillsborough sheriff’s Capt. Preston Hollis said. “Always.”
The Tampa police officer who lives at that home was not named by the Sheriff’s Office. The officer was on duty at the time of the shooting. The Tampa Police Department said the officer is an 11-year veteran of the force.
Hollis did not say how the shooting took place. Investigators are trying to determine how the teens came in possession of a loaded weapon and if the shooting was accidental.
“It’s a tragedy because it could have been prevented,” he said, adding “Anytime we have one of these events, unfortunately, it’s a great time to talk about gun safety and firearm safety."
The captain warned that anyone handling firearms should assume they’re loaded, and that adults should always secure their weapons. Children should also be warned to never handle guns.
The Sheriff’s Office did not release the names of any of the teens involved in the shooting. All their parents have been told of the shooting.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan has been in contact with Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister about the incident, according to both agencies. The teen who died was not a member of the officer’s family.
The Sheriff’s Office said it has not yet determined whether the weapon involved was issued by the Tampa Police Department. Tampa police referred all questions about the shooting to the Sheriff’s Office.